Wild West: On The Trading Block – Part 3
Playoff Western Leaders
Goals – 10 – Bo Horvat – Vancouver
Assists – 18 – Miro Heiskanen – Dallas
Points – 25 – Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado
PPP – 10 – Elias Pettersson – Vancouver
Shots on Goal – 80 – Shea Theodore – Vegas
PIM – 46 – Antoine Roussel – Vancouver
Best plus/minus – plus 13 – Nathan Mackinnon – Colorado
Hits – 96 – Jamie Oleksiak – Dallas
Blocked shots – 67 – Alexander Edler – Vancouver
Best FO% (min 200 draws) – 62.7% – Ryan O'Reilly – St. Louis
Worst FO% (min 200 draws) – 42.9% – William Karlsson – Vegas
Giveaways – 41 – Miro Heiskanen – Dallas
Draisaitl Hat Tricks – 1 – Connor McDavid – Edmonton, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton, Mikko Rantanen – Colorado, Cale Makar – Colorado, Corey Perry – Dallas, J.T. Miller – Vancouver, Nathan Mackinnon – Colorado
Goalie wins – 13 – Anton Khudobin – Dallas
Save percentage (min 10 starts) – 92.4 – Cam Talbot – Calgary
Quality starts – 11 – Jacob Markstrom – Vancouver
I must have been thinking of Mikko’s brother Saku Koivu as Mikko has not announced his retirement. I was a little premature on the 37-year old, but Minnesota did announce they would not have him back.
The Blues were exposed a little in the playoffs and now have just over $5 million available in cap space and it appears that Alex Pietrangelo is no longer in the plans of St. Louis. Doug Armstrong has already sent Jake Allen to Montreal, but there should be more moves to follow. The roster is laden with no-trade clauses (NTC) and modified no-trade clauses (M-NTC) which might make it a little more difficult. Those with an NTC are Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, Alexander Steen and Justin Faulk. Those with an M-NTC are Jaden Schwartz (15-team no-trade list), Tyler Bozak (10-team no-trade list), David Perron (5-team no-trade list, Marco Scandella (7-team no-trade list), and Carl Gunnarsson (5-team no-trade list).
Other than Pietrangelo, the only unrestricted free agent is Troy Brouwer and it is unlikely he re-signs with the Blues at the age of 35. The sole restricted free agent is Vince Dunn and he is due for a pay raise which didn't help the Pietrangelo re-signing. The big question for Armstrong is who does he move to and re-sign Dunn and replace Pietrangelo with? All indicators point to Tyler Bozak with his limited NTC and $5 million cap hit. Jaden Schwartz is likely to test out free agency at the end of 2021, so even with his limited NTC, the Blues might move him at some point as well. Both Bozak and Schwartz are very valuable members of the team still, so I'm sure they would love to do something with Steen instead, but that is up to Steen. Oskar Sundqvist and his $2.75 million cap hit might be reason enough to trade him as well.
Teams will try to focus on Zach Sanford, Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev and Colton Parayko. The Blues won't want to move any of them, but you never know. The team will also need to re-sign Jordan Binnington as he becomes a UFA at the end of 2021, along with Steen, Schwartz and Bozak.
Why did they sign Justin Faulk to such a horrible contract?
With just over $14 million in cap space, the Sharks need to re-sign RFAs Kevin Labanc and Jacob Middleton. Labanc gave a surprising home town discount this past season ($1 million) and will look for a hefty increase in pay but things could sour quickly as he didn't do himself any favours with a sub-par season compared to 2018-19. Depending on negotiations, he could find himself on another team, this offseason.
The players with NMCs are Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and those with M-NTCs are Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl, Brent Burns and Martin Jones. All of these modified clauses might as well be full no-trade as each of these players can submit a 3-team trade list. These guys aren't going anywhere unless they want to in the next two to seven years.
UFAs are Melker Karlsson, Stefan Noesen, Joe Thornton, Brandon Davidson, Dalton Prout and Aaron Dell. I would think if Thornton wants to come back he will be welcome at a salary close to what he had last season, but the others will more than likely be allowed to walk if they want anything north of $1 million in salary per year.
Martin Jones has underperformed since the beginning of 2018-19 and still has four years remaining on a $5.75 million AAV contract. I don't think Doug Wilson has much choice but to see if Jones rebounds to pre-2018, but the team is not as good around him as it was and he is now 30-years old. I think the team will give him the first half of the season before bringing another goalie in to challenge him.
On paper, this team looks like it is a UFA signing away from competing for a Stanley cup again, but it has become obvious that most of their players over 30 are on the downward slope and the roster is very top-heavy in salary. Cap space is not an issue and Wilson is a little desperate, so I'd be a little shocked if he didn't dip his toes into free agency to try to better the team. If this team struggles next year, teams will target Timo Meier and perhaps some of the players with clauses will expand their trade lists. Other clubs might target Mario Ferraro in exchange for San Jose needing help right now, but I'm sure the price would be high.
With just over $14.2 million in cap space, it would seem that the Canucks have plenty of room for next season, but that is not the case at all. Forgive me for the length of the Canucks breakdown, but we're bombarded with speculation every day in this market.
UFAs are Tyler Toffoli, Josh Leivo, Oscar Fantenberg, Chris Tanev, Jacob Markstrom and Louis Domingue. Markstrom is number one on the team’s list to re-sign, but negotiations are stalling and I'm sure the performance by Thatcher Demko in the Vegas series has complicated things a little. Toffoli would be welcome back but the Canucks would be foolish to sign him to anything more than three or four years. There are some recovery concerns with Leivo (who wasn't the greatest skater, to begin with) and his broken kneecap. He might have to do another show me one year contract and that might not be with the Canucks if someone steps up with a two or three-year deal. Fantenberg is in a similar situation concerning the Canucks likely only wanting him for a one year deal, where he might find a multi-year deal elsewhere. Tanev brings a lot to this club and it's easy for people to want to move on from him and his $5 million-plus ask, but his absence would create a big hole in the top four. The domino for Domingue won't drop until the team knows what the situation with Markstrom is. Personally, the key players for me are Markstrom and Tanev but that is a lot of money.
Restricted free agents are Zack MacEwen, Jake Virtanen, Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette and Troy Stecher. Most people in Vancouver have written plane tickets out of town for Virtanen and Stecher already, but this might be a little premature as the Canucks aren't just going to give them away. Virtanen is an enigma as he had a decent regular season but a disappointing playoff. On the other hand, you have a player that should break the 20-goal barrier going forward and is only 24-years old. Throw out the fact that he was the 6th overall pick in 2014 and he is a fine player to have on the roster for $2 to 3 million AAV over two or three years if they want to bridge him. MacEwen and Motte should be re-signed for reasonable two or three-year deals, with Motte getting around $1.5 million AAV. Gaudette had a fine regular season with 33 points in 59 games but looked overmatched in his 10 playoff games where he was held pointless. That has to be a little concerning moving forward with him so perhaps a one-year deal is in order until he reaches arbitration rights. Stecher is the most likely to be dealt as he needs to be qualified for around $2.5 million AAV and for all the positives he brings to the team, this might be too rich for his role with the Canucks.
Players with full NMCs are Micheal Ferland and Alex Edler while M-NTCs belong to Loui Eriksson (15-team no-trade list), Brandon Sutter (15-team no-trade list), Antoine Roussel (8-team no-trade list), Jay Beagle (5-team no-trade list) and Tyler Myers (10-team no-trade list). Ferland is likely to be on the LTIR and Edler is unlikely to waive his clause in any event. The focus for the Canucks will be to move Eriksson, Sutter and perhaps one of Roussel or Beagle before next season. Easier said than done of course and this might be where Virtanen, Stecher or Gaudette are included in a deal.
Impending UFAs at the end of 2021 are Sutter, Tanner Pearson, Sven Baertschi, Alex Edler and Jordie Benn. Pearson's name hasn't come up that much but the Canucks would theoretically be selling high on him coming off a 21-goals season and $3.75 million would be huge savings on the cap space. Every attempt will be made to move Baertschi, but retaining salary is probably a must in any deal as well as a sweetener. Depending on the young Canuck defensemen coming up, Benn will be traded at some point next season and be replaced by an entry-level contract player.
Brock Boeser is heavily rumoured to be traded to Minnesota for Matt Dumba, but 25-30 goal wingers that are 23-years old don't grow on trees. I’m sure teams will be calling for Boeser, Virtanen, Gaudette and Demko if Markstrom re-signs.
The big focus will be on extending Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in the next year and surely one of the contracts will be the richest in Canucks history.
Vegas looked all world against Vancouver in the playoffs (even though the series went seven games), but met their match against Dallas when their scoring dried up completely. The team has just under $5 million of cap space available for next season and have Tomas Nosek, Jon Merrill, Deryk Engelland and Robin Lehner as UFAs. It has been unofficially reported that Lehner has agreed to a long-term extension while it is up in the air whether the other three will re-sign in Vegas. The two RFAs are Nick Cousins and Chandler Stephenson and of the two, Stephenson will command a little more money to keep as Cousins struggled in the playoffs.
Mark Stone has the only NMC, while Marc-Andre Fleury (10-team no-trade list), Nate Schmidt (10-team no-trade list), Jonathan Marchessault (8-team no-trade list), Reilly Smith (8-team no-trade list), William Karlsson (10-team no-trade list), Paul Stastny (10-team no-trade list) and Max Pacioretty (10-team no-trade list).
With Lehner reportedly re-signing (like Koivu’s retirement, not quite yet), what will the Golden Knights do with 35-year old Fleury who has two years remaining at $7 million AAV? There aren't many teams looking for that combination of salary and age. The seemingly obvious player is Paul Stastny and his $6.5 million cap hit, but their might not be many suitors without salary retention and/or a sweetener. The team won't be able to afford to re-sign Alec Martinez but I'm guessing they want to keep him as their rental for next season, but if they have problems trading Stastny and/or Fleury he might be one of the only other options.
The Jets have just over $15.5 million in cap space, but they also have a plethora of free agents to sign as well as improve their back end. It's not surprising to hear the Patrick Laine trade rumours because the return would be high and he is an RFA at the end of 2021.
UFAs for Winnipeg currently are Cody Eakin, Logan Shaw, Nick Shore, Mark Letestu, Gabriel Bourque, Dmitry Kulikov, Luca Sbisa, Nathan Beaulieu, Dylan Demelo, Anthony Bitetto and Laurent Brossoit. Three or four of these players might be replaced by entry-level players and it's not an outside possibility that none of these players are brought back. RFAs are Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins, Jack Roslovic and Sami Niku. Roslovic has the highest ceiling of any of these players and will see the largest salary increase while Niku needs to be ready for a full-time role in the NHL. Appleton and Harkins should be happy with one-way contracts and will be back.
Winnipeg is usually a hard sell for free agents to play there, even with the talent this team has, so a high-end free agent is unlikely (Pietrangelo eg.). Blake Wheeler has the only NMC, while Mark Scheifele (10-team no-trade list) and Mathieu Perreault (5-team no-trade list) have the only M-NTCs.
I would think the team will look to move on from Perreault and Adam Lowry who are both UFA at the end of 2022 while Andrew Copp will need to be qualified at around $2.5 million AAV that same year. If Neal Pionk plays like he did last season, he will want a $5 or 6 million AAV after 2022 as well.
To upgrade the Jets defence, other teams will be looking at Laine and Roslovic to include in a deal, but Winnipeg would have to be getting a very good defenceman in return.
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